Kentucky News Now – March 23rd 2016
$4.5 billion road plan has money for Mountain Pkwy, I-75
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky House of Representatives has approved a two-year, $4.5 billion spending plan on roads and bridges.
The proposal includes 1,239 total projects, although not all of the projects will be built. The plan includes nearly $1 billion of state funded projects, but the state only has about $500 million in state tax dollars available to spend.
Major projects include $159 million to continue expanding the Mountain Parkway through Wolfe, Martin, Magoffin and Floyd counties. It also includes money to build an interchange on Interstate 65 in Bullitt County, design work for a bridge spanning the Ohio River on I-69 in Henderson County and $128 million to widen I-75 in Rockcastle County.
Many Republicans voted against the bill, accusing Democrats of not paying for projects in their districts.
Bill would impose fee of 93 cents on prepaid phones for 911
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — People who purchase prepaid cellphones would pay an extra fee of 93 cents to support local 911 systems under a bill that has cleared the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Local governments operate emergency 911 services. They pay for them with money collected from a fee on phone services, including landlines and cellphones. Cellphone customers with two-year contracts pay a fee of 70 cents per month. But people who purchase prepaid phones pay less.
A bill that cleared the House would impose a flat fee of 93 cents on prepaid customers. The higher fee accounts for the fact that, on average, prepaid customers purchase phone cards nine times a year instead of 12 times.
Retailers oppose the bill, arguing it would cost them too much money. The bill now heads to the state Senate.
Trooper placed on paid leave after western Kentucky shooting
WHITE PLAINS, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky State Police trooper has been placed on leave after a shooting death in western Kentucky.
State police said on Tuesday that Trooper Curtis Crick, a five-year veteran of the agency, was placed on paid administrative leave.
Police said in a news release that an autopsy Monday indicated that 23-year-old Dylan R. Whitaker of White Plains in Hopkins County died of gunshot wounds.
Police said Crick was involved in a vehicle pursuit Saturday with an ATV, whose driver lost control of the vehicle. The ATV turned over, and the driver pulled out a handgun and fired at the trooper, who returned fire, hitting the man. Whitaker was pronounced dead at the scene. Crick wasn't injured.
Whitaker was white, as is Crick.
Kentucky's AG sues Volkswagen for emissions-rigging scheme
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's attorney general has sued Volkswagen, claiming the automaker's emissions-rigging scheme violated the state's consumer protection law.
Attorney General Andy Beshear said Tuesday the suit filed in a state court seeks civil penalties totaling millions of dollars, plus restitution for nearly 3,800 vehicle owners in Kentucky.
Kentucky's lawsuit is the latest in the fallout against Volkswagen. In January, the U.S. Justice Department sued it over the emissions-cheating software found in hundreds of thousands of vehicle sold in the country.
Beshear, a Democrat, said Volkswagen must be held accountable for its "false and misleading" promotion and sales of its vehicles in the state.
VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan says the company typically doesn't comment on litigation.
Beshear's office says four other states have filed similar suits against the automaker.
TODDLER FOUND DEAD
Trial date moved for Kentucky man accused of killing toddler
GLASGOW, Ky. (AP) — A man accused of killing a 2-year-old girl in Barren County has had his trial moved to the end of the year.
Media outlets report that a judge on Monday set a Dec. 6 trial date in the case of 26-year-old Anthony Dale Barbour, who is facing murder and other charges in connection with the death of Laynee Wallace last year. The trial date had earlier been set for April.
Wallace's body was found inside a well in Barren County on May 25, a week after she disappeared.
Barbour is also charged with tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.
Ken Garrett, Barbour's attorney, filed a motion for a speedy trial on Friday, prompting the judge to order DNA analysis of evidence to be completed by July 1.
STORAGE UNIT SHOOTING
Man found guilty of manslaughter after fatal storage unit
PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) — A jury has recommended that a western Kentucky man spend 7 ½ years in prison for fatally shooting a man he said was stealing from his storage unit.
The Paducah Sun reports that a McCracken County jury on Monday found 49-year-old Jeffrey Conrad guilty of second-degree manslaughter in connection with the June shooting death of 31-year-old Garlon Casey Cox at a Reidland storage facility.
Authorities said Conrad caught Cox and 36-year-old Brandon York, both of Benton, stealing items from his storage unit.
Conrad says he ordered the men to freeze, but Cox ran into his truck and started backing up in the direction of Conrad's female friend. Conrad says he then fired at the truck, fatally wounding Cox.
Conrad, who had initially been charged with murder, is scheduled to be sentenced in May.
Jefferson County elementary suspensions rise dramatically
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Suspensions at Jefferson County public elementary schools have jumped more than 80 percent this year, already surpassing the number of suspensions handed down during any school year in at least the past decade.
The Courier-Journal reports that more than 900 kindergarten through fifth-grade students have been sent home on suspension at least once so far this school year.
Jefferson County Assistant Superintendent Joe Leffert says the reasons behind this year's increase are unclear. He says "schools are following the code of conduct."
District data shows that fighting accounted for more than half of the elementary suspensions.
The number of suspensions still represents only a small fraction of elementary students in JCPS — about 2 percent. That percentage is not out of line with national trends of elementary suspensions.
Coal company cited after weekend spill affected creek
MAYKING, Ky. (AP) — The water of an Eastern Kentucky creek has turned red due to mine discharge, but state officials say the discharge isn't responsible for dead wildlife in the creek.
Kentucky Energy and Environment spokesman John Mura tells WFPL-FM (http://bit.ly/25ibpwC) that mine activity at Hardshell Tipples in Letcher County overflowed a retention pond on Friday, sending the iron-laced water into Pine Creek.
State officials issued three violations to the company, and are continuing to monitor to see if the company is complying with regulations that prohibit discharging mine waste into water supplies.
Tarence Ray of nonprofit Appalachian Voices says there are dead fish and turtles in the creek. Mura says the state doesn't believe the spill caused the animal deaths.
The company is treating the spill by putting soda ash into the retention pond.
Hardshell Tipples couldn't be reached for comment.
Group of boxers from Kazakhstan visits Muhammad Ali's hometown of Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A delegation of 12 boxers and trainers from Kazakhstan is in Muhammad Ali's hometown of Louisville this week as part of a two-week cultural exchange program.
Participants include seven men and five women from the Asian country who were selected by the Kazakhstan Boxing Federation in recognition of their leadership skills as youth athletes and trainers.
The participants are learning how communities in Louisville empower youth through sports education programs. The delegation is being introduced to the Muhammad Ali Center's education curriculum, which is used in schools and youth boxing clubs.
In addition to visiting the Ali Center, the delegation will meet Louisville's mayor and meet youth involved in community service through sports.
The cultural exchange program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press